Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Maps, part II

No novel excerpt today, and no miniatures either. (I've traveling, so there hasn't been much time for painting.) Instead, we have another little batch of alternate history maps. Check out part I if you haven't seen it before!

This first one was created for a challenge to imagine a world with a North-South cold war rather than an East-West one. There are actually two parts to it--a political map and one that shows the various alliances of this world.
The Premise:

Columbus can't get Ferdinand and Isabella to bankroll his crazy scheme--for one thing, everyone knows that you can't reach China by sailing west; the ocean is too wide and also we're too busy pushing the Moors out of Iberia and back into Africa. Sorry.

But eventually Henry VII of England ponies up some cash, and Columbus sails off with a couple of ships, and eventually returns claiming to have found the island of Cipango. So that sparks some interest. A lot of powers get in on this new game. France wins big; it's French conquistadors who knock over the Aztec and Inka empires, and most of that sweet, sweet bullion goes into French coffers to pay for a few rounds of wars. Britain grabs most of the rest of South Columbia and some decent islands, Portugal splits North Columbia with the various Protestant powers, and Spain grabs a chunk of Texas, although they're mostly pretty busy getting nowhere in North Africa.

Time passes; a few wars shake up Europe. The southernmost British colonies break away to form the Commonwealth of Columbia. Another round of wars. The riches of the Indies beckon. (No one gets confused about which ones, because they call the Caribbean Islands "Cipango" instead.) Some guys in England and Flanders start to figure out what all this coal might be good for. Another round of wars gives some of the Columbian colonies a chance for independence. Mostly no one notices. Things are pretty quiet up there in North Columbia.

The German states start pulling their act together. French discovers yet another continent--hot, dry, and full of poisonous animals. Seems like a great place to send troublemakers and rabble-rousers. (There sure are a lot of those these days. How could this possibly go wrong?) Russia starts to emerge from medieval squalor; the Poles and their friends aren't too thrilled. China stays on its toes and keeps up with the foreign devils, but the French push their way into Japan.

The industrial revolution is in full swing. The Germans are making up for lost time--where can we find a few colonies? Africa! It'll be the next big thing! (Except that instead of valuable stuff, it's full of diseases and grumpy natives with spears.) French are there too. Everyone's getting a bit nervous about these French. Alliances start shifting. The French colony in Australia revolts (what a surprise!) and manages to make it stick. The first aircraft take to the skies.

Round one: fight! Germany, Spain, England, Poland vs. France. Lots of people die before the generals figure out the best way to use these new-fangled machine guns. Eventually it sort of peters out. A few colonies change hands. No one really wins, but England doesn't really lose. Business is good, business is bad. Regime changes happen. Germany goes "Anarchist." (Definitely not our sort.) Encourages oppressed minorities of Europe to follow suit. A lot of people like that idea; a lot of governments don't. Alliances shift a bit; it's about time for round two.

Round two: fight! Germany and Poland vs. Spain, France, Russia, Austria. The Brits stay out of it this time. Probably a good decision. Things don't go so well for Germany and Poland. They lose some territory and their colonies, such as they were. The Republic of the Four Lands is back down to two. The victorious powers sign some treaties, making sure this kind of radical nonsense (voting? a free press?) doesn't happen again. Some of those former radicals flee abroad, to more hospitable southern climes, where things are freer.

The Columbian Commonwealth and the Social Republic of Terrerouge start a club of their own, and get some buddies to join. They don't like the way the French and Russians are throwing their weight around. The Ottoman Empire (the sly old man of Europe) is interested. So are the British and the Portuguese. The Chinese remain as inscrutable as ever. The Columbians test a new weapon in a remote site in the Atacama. A few months later, the French test a similar one deep in the Sahara. An awkward silence settles over the world. The year is 2009.

Next up: a surviving Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth goes Communist! Somewhere in the English-speaking world, bored schoolchildren try to remember a few key facts about the revolution.

And something else entirely, inspired by recent adventures that involved walking around Baltimore and driving across Pennsylvania...
From An Introductory History of North America, vol. 2: The Atlantic Wars

Following the American Revolution, the former colonies of the Atlantic seaboard formed a loose coalition known as the United States of America under the Articles of Confederation. This served to protect the fledgling nations from falling back into the clutches of Britain, but the Continental Congress was unable to permanently resolve a number of internal disputes to the satisfaction of all involved...

New England was the first to withdraw from the United States, in 1807. Others gradually followed suit, and while the Continental Congress continued to meet even up until the 1830's, by that point it was only a ghost of its former self. Relations between the formerly united states remained mostly cordial, however, up until the New Jersey Partitions...

Historians generally refer to the Vermont War and the Chesapeake War as the First and Second Atlantic War, respectively, even though they had no participants in common--the Vermont War saw New York and New England face off over the long-simmering claims to the eponymous Vermont region, while the Chesapeake War between Pennsylvania and Virginia began with a dispute over navigational rights on the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay. It would not be until the Third Atlantic War that all four powers would become involved, as the defeated parties in the First and Second Atlantic Wars banded together to press their irredentist claims...

This map shows the Mid-Atlantic region between the Treaty of Providence which ended the Chesapeake war in 1882 and the beginning of the Third Atlantic War in 1887. Note the existence of the Free City of Baltimore, a peculiar construct of the Providence conference; Virginia was unwilling to cede the important port city entirely, so it was made independent. This independence was somewhat nominal, as Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor was leased to the Pennsylvanian Navy on an indefinite basis...

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